Boomerang employees trend continues to grow, but is a returning worker a good idea long-term?

According to LinkedIn, boomerang employees accounted for 5% – 1.4 million people – of all new hires in 2021 in the U.K., a record high. The professional social media platform also contributed to this trend, with nearly 150 returning employees between September 2021 and February 2022.

It is a good idea for businesses to take a supportive and pragmatic approach, believes James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO and chairman of Frank Recruitment Group. Mainly because the workforce “is far more fluid now” compared to a decade ago, and the average length of service has reduced.

“There’s also far less of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ relationship between employer and employee today,” he said. “The dream scenario as an organization is for everyone leaving you to be welcome back at any stage in their career, and boomerang hires are just evidence of that attitude translating into practice.”

Glassdoor research published in 2020 calculated that the average U.K. employer spends around £3,000 ($3,688) per new hire, and the process takes approximately 28 days.

The price to pay for a wrong candidate is significantly higher, though. The U.S Department of Labor warns that a misfit will cost the business up to 30% of the employee’s wages for the first year. Others argue that the figure is significantly higher when training and supervision are factored in.

A Harris Poll research, published by USA Today in March, indicates the Great Resignation triggered during the pandemic has proved to be not so great for a high majority of movers. Indeed, just 26% of job switchers quizzed say they like their new position enough to stay.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Business leaders’ latest headache: Supporting staff through cost-of-living crisis, while staying profitable

The unholy trinity of rising energy, fuel and food prices is forcing U.K. residents to sacrifice luxuries — and even necessities — in a cost-of-living crisis that is already far worse than many predicted earlier in the year. Things are similarly bleak in the U.S., where inflation hit 8.6% in May, and the Federal Reserve has responded by raising interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point — the sharpest hike in 28 years.

Granted, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation. But with inflation now at 9.1% in the U.K. and the Bank of England, which raised interest rates to 1.25% in mid-June, predicting that will increase to 11% in the fall, plus almost daily record-high petrol and diesel costs, things are unlikely to improve any time soon.

In response to all of this, employers on both sides of the Atlantic are pushing through new policies to better support their employees.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Why more companies are sending new hires straight to the metaverse for improved onboarding

What will you learn on your first day at work in the metaverse? 

This year, some 150,000 joiners will begin their careers at Accenture in the company’s virtual campus, called the Nth Floor, according to Allison Horn, the company’s executive director of global talent, based in Washington DC.

The Nth Floor is where new hires and existing Accenture staff “can have a more immersive experience for learning and networking,” said Jon Ayres, U.K. managing director for talent and organization at the company. It is one of a growing list of examples showcasing how employers are using pioneering technology to attract and retain top talent. 

Given the tussle for top talent and the need for greater connection with colleagues in the age of hybrid working, Ayres predicts that companies will “experiment with new technology so employees can collaborate in a more meaningful way, which will advance the virtual working tools used widely today.” His statement is supported by new McKinsey research, published mid-June, which calculates metaverse spending will hit $5 trillion by 2030.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Flexibility is key to recruitment – and keeping your staff

Fallout from Brexit and the pandemic has led to more vacancies than applicants, but paying extra is not a long-term option

When the Office for National Statistics published its latest job vacancies data this week, it exposed the post-pandemic recruitment challenges facing most businesses. The number of unfilled positions in the UK increased by 20,000 between March and May to a record 1.3 million, while in the three months from February to April the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 per cent, the lowest since 1974.

“For the first time since records began there are fewer unemployed people than job vacancies,” said Jack Kennedy, a UK economist at the job-listing platform Indeed. “That marks a dramatic turnaround from last summer when there were four unemployed people per vacancy. It also highlights the extreme tightness of the labour market, which has been fuelling hiring difficulties across many sectors.”

Cleaning, construction, warehouse, manufacturing and hospitality roles are all receiving lower interest levels on average than before the pandemic, he added. Brexit is exacerbating the challenges for sectors that relied on workers from the European Union.

The lack of flexible working in these roles, in comparison with desk-based jobs, is another factor, as is the number of people opting for early retirement.

The pandemic “put the brakes on decades of improvement” in employment rates among those in their fifties and sixties, said Ian Nicholas, the global managing director at the employment agency Reed. “The number of people in this age group who are not even looking for work has risen by 228,000,” he said, adding that companies should encourage older staff to stay in work to share knowledge and engage with younger members of the workforce.

This article was first published in The Times in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE (note: it is behind a paywall).

‘A business imperative’: How Salesforce developed its employee-centric hybrid model

The truism that a happy worker is a productive worker has perhaps never been more closely scrutinized.

At Salesforce, it has become the motto that underpins the company’s entire flexible workforce structure, which it has rolled out for its 77,000 employees globally.

This ‘Success from Anywhere’ model, launched in 2021, was the fruits of two years worth of internal employee surveys the company ran to get a grasp on what employees want from their workplace and their jobs, post-pandemic.

The model has made it a popular place to work. Salesforce is one of only four employers that feature on all five country lists — the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France and Germany) in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work in 2022. And in late April, it was ranked top in the “super large” classification – organizations with over 1,000 employees – of the U.K.’s Best Workplaces 2022, elevated from third place last year, according to management consultancy Great Place to Work.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

How switching to a 4-day week solved challenger bank Atom’s talent shortage

Six months ago, challenger bank Atom was in a tight spot: its growth tear was being stunted by a major talent shortage.

The company had 70 unfilled job vacancies and, in a tight labor market, was struggling to find the best talent to fill them.

To boost its visibility as a great place to work and attract top talent, Atom’s U.K.-based leadership decided to take the plunge and trial a four-day week, to see if it boosted the volume of candidates applying.

It worked. The company had a 500% increase in applications for open roles, according to Atom’s chief people officer Anne-Marie Lister.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Why the U.K. is becoming a forerunner for a ‘worrying recruitment trend’

While all countries have to deal with the pandemic-induced change in the job market, Ian Nicholas, global managing director at employment agency Reed, believes that Brexit is an aggravating factor and means that the U.K. is a forerunner of a worrying recruitment trend. 

The break from the European Union has led to an “exodus” of lower-paid workers, with many industries – including construction, cleaning, manufacturing and hospitality – struggling to fill the vacancies, he added.

The deepening cost-of-living crisis is likely to make recruitment even more challenging. And it might mean organizations move abroad, Nicholas argues. “There must be a danger that some companies could relocate if they feel that they cannot attract and retain talent within the U.K. at remuneration levels that maintain their commercial competitiveness,” he said. 

While business relocation is probably not currently front of mind for most leaders in the U.K., there are signs that other less extreme contingency plans and innovative recruitment schemes are on the agenda.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

WTF is a digital HQ?

Pandemic-induced lockdowns forced many industries to dial up their digital capabilities rapidly. However, thanks to the marvels of technology, we learned that communication and collaboration were possible without being physically present with colleagues, even if “you’re on mute” was an all-too-familiar refrain.

But now that most businesses are firming up their post-pandemic strategies, with numerous organizations around the globe opting for a hybrid-working model, how can leaders strike the right balance between in-office and remote work? 

In a digital-first, post-pandemic world, the physical office is no longer the key place that people connect, it could be argued. Could the answer be a futuristic-sounding digital headquarters with no proximity bias, where communication is transparent and the culture thrives? What many are referring to as a digital HQ?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

‘I’m holding out to go to the toilet’: Why monitoring employees – inside and outside the office – is rocketing anxiety

How would you like it if your working day was monitored, and the time at the computer, the number of keystrokes and non-work-related searches all counted by your employer? 

Despite knowledge workers pleading for greater flexibility and autonomy in this messy post-pandemic period, and a clear shift to measuring outcomes rather than time, there has been a massive surge in worldwide demand for solutions to keep tabs on staff, wherever they are working. 

Now businesses are firming up their hybrid working strategies there is even greater interest in various forms of monitoring tech. Research from Top10VPN shows global demand for employee monitoring software jumped by 75% between January and March 2022, marking the biggest three-month increase since 2019.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

WTF is Pleasanteeism?

You’ve heard of presenteeism, but a new and arguably even more troubling related term is now entering the business lexicon: pleasanteeism.

As businesses chisel their hybrid-working strategies, employees are being forced back into offices. And while many relish the opportunity to converse and collaborate with colleagues in person, for some, this cheery attitude belies underlying fears about returning to work, money troubles, and mental health woes. As a result, people are suffering in silence.

“Pleasanteeism is the sense that we always have to display our best self and show that we are OK regardless of whether we’re stressed, under too much pressure, or in need of support,” said Shaun Williams, CEO and founder of insurance firm Lime Global, who invented the term in August 2021. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

Where should cash-strapped public sector organisations allocate funds?

Upskilling employees, smarter outsourcing and new technology could help reduce costs and reduce debt – and deliver better service

TS Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, published exactly a century ago, begins with the words: “April is the cruellest month.” One hundred years on, considering the exorbitant rise of energy costs for British citizens and businesses in April 2022, it’s hard to disagree. Unfortunately, it appears worse is to come, with many feeling the world will end with a whimper – so how can the public sector cope?

On 5 May, the Bank of England lifted interest rates to a 13-year high and forecast that inflation would soar above 10% in the coming months, warning that the surging rise in living costs could plunge the economy into recession this year. But it’s not only citizens who are squeezed; the public sector is already in the red – just as demand for public services is likely to reach unprecedented levels.

The latest Office for National Statistics figures show that total public sector debt stood at £2,344 billion at the end of March 2022. This is equivalent to 96.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a level not seen since the early 1960s.

Further, public sector net borrowing was £151.8 billion in the year to March 2022. This was the third-highest borrowing figure since records began in 1947, and is around 6.4% of GDP.

Given this gloomy backdrop, how should public sector organisations plagued by money worries invest in technology solutions that best serve struggling citizens? Granted, costly gambles on the metaverse and vanity projects are not a good idea right now, but what’s the best way to allocate funds?

Jon Crowcroft is a co-founder of iKVA, an artificial intelligence knowledge management company, chair of The Alan Turing Institute, and Marconi professor of communications systems in the computer laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He is well placed to answer these critical questions.

Investing in skills to address huge delivery challenges

“My advice would be to match the budget to the current skills base, or organisations will face the challenge of undertaking a huge retraining exercise that will overwhelm their resources,” he says. “Government departments such as transport, energy and healthcare are relatively technologically advanced and staffed by individuals who inherently use technology for timetabling systems, power grid maintenance and data analysis. Computing is embedded into job roles in these departments, particularly in healthcare.”

Other areas, such as the legal sector, have more limited skills, Crowcroft says. Their relative ability should inform where additional funds will be required to support the deployment of technological solutions. 

Alex Case is public sector industry principal at Pegasystems and a former senior civil servant at 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, who recently oversaw cross-Whitehall Brexit delivery. He has also led large-scale public sector reform initiatives in the UK and Canada – and is in no doubt of the scale of the task ahead.

“The government continues to face huge delivery challenges, from coronavirus, Brexit, the war in Ukraine or the cost-of-living crisis, including dealing with backlogs, driving levelling up, getting the health service back on track, transforming social care and dealing with the safety of tall buildings. These need government operations to run effectively and efficiently and for the least amount of cost possible.”

Low-code can revolutionise how government designs and builds IT. It can help a business to get what it wants and needs from a new system, not the system the IT team thinks the business needs

Low-code software development uses drag-and-drop features instead of extensive coding language to build applications. The result is that it is faster to complete and non-professional coders can use it. This makes it an excellent option to accelerate innovation and reduce costs, suggests Case. Its uses across government departments could include streaming and improving outdated and clunky customer service processes, digitising inefficient and complex programmes and back-office processes, and modernising debt collection while reducing fraud.

“Low-code can revolutionise how government designs and builds IT. It can help a business to get what it wants and needs from a new system, not the system the IT team thinks the business needs.”

Additionally, he says this approach can bridge the frequent divide between business users, subject matter experts, product owners, and the technical design and developer teams.

Where, though, should the public sector focus its investment now? Crowcroft contends that it is less where and more how the money should be spent, celebrating the increased adoption of AI. “During the pandemic, the public sector successfully used AI and automation to meet increased demand for services,” he says. 

“AI can automate bureaucratic processes that are currently resource-intensive, reducing the human workload. This will offer cost-savings, improve accuracy, and enable people to do other things that have a positive return for their organisations, such as analysing data to identify where other improvements can be made.”

An example of this is in the care sector, says Crowcroft. By automating some of the paperwork, the amount of time a care worker can spend with people in need increases. “The processes at the human level are reflected in documentation, and that shouldn’t be the case anymore,” he adds.

One obvious way for the public sector to reduce costs is by being smarter with outsourcing while improving in-house skills. For instance, the value of contracts awarded by the UK government and public bodies to consultants was £2.5bn in 2020-21, as organisations used the private sector to deal with the pandemic. 

“Consultants will always have a place in the public sector,” concludes Crowcroft. “But using technology to unlock data insights and training our people to understand the information – will improve confidence in their decision-making.”

Is low-code the answer to public sector worries?

“The government knows that low-code can help take the pressure off and has invited proposals for innovative platforms and software for digital public services,” says Mark Smitham, lead for public sector marketing at Mendix, a low-code platform. “Their shared vision is to deliver more user-centred, cost-effective, local public services through open, collaborative and reusable work.”

He suggests Knowsley Council is a prime example of a local service provider that used low-code to adapt to the increased demand from residents and local businesses. “In just 24 hours, the council built an application that enables Knowsley residents to request assistance or volunteer their services to support their local community,” Smitham continues. “This application connected people who need help with those who can help, providing support for 7,000 vulnerable residents.”

Elsewhere, a low-code platform is being used to address the growing issue of financial debt with core business transformation at StepChange, the UK’s largest debt management charity, says Alex Case, public sector industry principal at Pegasystems. “Additionally, low-code solutions are being deployed to tackle costly fraud and errors for the Department for Work and Pensions. It is transforming how the country registers land and property, and even supporting how the Ministry of Defence recruits essential skills to predict and deal with a fast-paced and changing environment.”

This article was first published in Raconteur’s Public Sector Technology report in May 2022

WTF is an employee engagement platform?

Every successful company has realized that its people are its greatest asset for decades – if not centuries. Now, more than ever before in the history of work, employers have to understand in great detail what their employees want and need because of the seismic shifts happening. 

With most organizations figuring out flexible and hybrid working models, their employees are the most critical stakeholders. For this reason, to gauge their sentiments, companies are turning to employee experience (EX) platforms.

What exactly are EX platforms, and when did they become a thing?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

Badly managed return-to-office plans will fuel a ‘well-being crisis’ doctors warn

Doctors are lining up to warn U.S. and U.K. business leaders that they face a “well-being crisis” if they fail to improve the mental health support for employees returning to the office.

While people’s mental health has suffered in general over the past two years, the return to office is adding some new stressors to the mix. Employers must respond in kind, and actively listen to staff in order to provide the right support, or they’ll risk a backlash, say health experts.

A Slack-commissioned study of 1,000 knowledge workers in the U.K., launched in May which is Mental Health Awareness month, revealed that 73% of employees have experienced exhaustion in the last year. And almost half (49%) of respondents highlight associated costs with office working, such as travel and food, as stressors — at a time when 87% of British adults are reporting a rise in their cost of living, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

Fast-track to remote-first success: Experienced experts reveal their tips so others can accelerate their journeys

When Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky unveiled the company’s remote working policy at the start of May, in only 105 words, there was much to admire about its boldness and simplicity. However, one detail concerned Paul McKinlay, vp and head of remote for Cimpress/Vista, which implemented a similar strategy two years ago. It was Chesky’s comment that remote working “will become the predominant way companies work 10 years from now.”

The Airbnb boss’s prediction is supported by electronics firm Ricoh Europe’s research, which polled 3,000 employees in the U.K. and Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands last month. Almost half of the respondents (47%) think we’ll all work remotely in a decade’s time and that the traditional office space won’t exist.

But for Boston-based McKinlay that timeframe isn’t nearly fast enough. He warned that global leaders need to “act much sooner” and develop fully-fledged hybrid and remote-friendly working models for the benefit of their team members, shareholders and business results.

WorkLife spoke to a range of execs from different companies, which have already implemented successful hybrid and remote-first models, for tips on what to focus on. Here’s what they had to say ….

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

The seven biggest hybrid-working challenges, and how to fix them

The phrase “new normal” is a misnomer, given the state of flux in the business world. Few organizations have been able to normalize operations; who can say they’ve nailed their hybrid working strategy with a straight face?

As Kate Thrumble, executive director of talent at marketing company R/GA London, said: “We are all on a – to use an overused word – ‘journey’ with the post-pandemic way of working. No one has cracked it yet. Even those with the best intentions will have to wait a year or two to understand the impact of today’s decisions.”

However, by matching the right technology solutions with the most pressing hybrid-working challenges, organizations will reach their end destination quicker: a happy, productive, engaged and empowered workforce.

So what exactly are the seven most significant business challenges and the best tech, tools and processes to solve them and speed up progress?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in May 2022 – to continue reading please click HERE.

Hangover and ‘disappointment’ days: Unusual flexible work policies that will have you raising a glass

Imagine the chaotic scene: you wake up with a pounding head and bloodshot eyes, and last night’s clothes, which reek of alcohol, are strewn carelessly throughout your home. And, worst of all, you have to be in the office in 10 minutes.

Once upon a time, you might have “pulled a sickie,” but now you can be honest because you remember, thankfully, that your employer has a “hangover day” policy. So you message your boss to say you won’t be coming in today.

The Audit Lab, a digital marketing agency in Bolton, near Manchester in the U.K., established such a policy in the summer of 2019. As per the rules: “A hangover day is essentially a work from home day that is booked in last minute. Due to the nature of our industry, which can involve schmoozing with clients and networking, there are a lot of conferences, events and work dos. Our approach acknowledges that our staff may like to enjoy a drink or two at these events.” 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in May 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

Caught red-handed: What happens when employees are found watching pornography in the workplace?

When disgraced U.K. Conservative politician Neil Parish was caught red-handed watching pornography on his mobile phone in the House of Commons last week, his defense was messy. He claimed to have inadvertently stumbled across the explicit content after searching for farming equipment — specifically Claas Dominator combine harvesters.

But, as the late U.K. Labour politician and former chancellor Denis Healey famously said: “It’s a good thing to follow the first law of holes; if you are in one, stop digging.”

At the end of April, the unseemly incident quickly escalated. Parish bowed to public pressure and announced his resignation admitting a “moment of madness.” The scandal, however, brought into sharp focus the similarities — and contrasts — between employment law in the U.K. and the U.S., and what is deemed to be inappropriate in the workplace. In this case, it was telling that Parish, who represents the Devon, England constituency Tiverton and Honiton resigned but was not fired.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in May 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

Why new hybrid working policies are falling short for employees

Hybrid working policies are a mess.

In the stampede to get people back into the office, most employers have fallen short when it comes to providing real flexibility and autonomy. The result: employees that have returned to the office haven’t enjoyed the experience, while those that have been forced to return, have quit as a result, according to sources.

Part of the issue is that hybrid workforce strategies have largely been centered on where employees should be while they work, rather than on work outcomes. It should be the other way around.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in April 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

Navigating the messy business of pets in the workplace – at home and in the office

Never work with children or animals, warns the old show-biz adage. So what happens if you acquired a pet during the pandemic — as millions of households did — and need to tend to your newish pooch or pussycat either at home while on videoconferencing calls or in the company workplace? 

When things go wrong, it can be highly amusing for everyone apart from the embarrassed owner and possibly their boss, especially if there is a mess to clean up. For instance, New York-based HR professional Harriet – a pseudonym WorkLife agreed to – recently suffered a “disgusting” experience while on a virtual call with her team. 

“In the background of the shot, I noticed my dog, Rooster, starting to poo,” she said. “I immediately pushed my camera up, so he was out of sight, put myself on mute, and used my best poker face. Within seconds he had defecated all over the room – something to do with eating a discarded takeaway-food wrapper the day before.”

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in April 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

Retiring ‘Out of office’ for ‘In the office’ email sign-offs: How to avoid defaulting to video meetings when in the office

When, on April 1, Bruce Daisley, best-selling author of “The Joy of Work,” posed a provocative question on LinkedIn musing whether “the ‘in the office’ message [will] replace the ‘out of office’” it was no foolish whimsy. 

As he explained: “Heard a brilliant thing today. One firm says they don’t want workers in the office spending all day on email. The suggestion is that everyone put their ‘in the office’ message on and deal with email from home.”

The former vp of Twitter for Europe, Middle East and Africa later told WorkLife that his comment came after hearing complaints from numerous firms that employees are heading into the office only to spend all day on video conferencing calls.

“Throughout the pandemic, the number of meetings in our diaries has doubled, and those meetings have stuck, like knotweed,” he said. “We’ve spent two years reflecting on the best way to get our work done, and then we’ve sleepwalked into a horrible solution.”

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in April 2022 – to continue reading please click here.